Chhath Parva

Chhath Parva, also known as (Chhathi/ Chhath/ Chhath Puja/ Dala Puja/ Surya Shasthi) is a festival which is celebrated by the Hindus to worship the Sun. Though it is widely celebrated in the North India and people of origin to those parts, in Nepal it is celebrated by the people of Madhesi community of the Terai region or elsewhere. This is the only Vedic festival to worship the Sun, as the Hindu people consider the Sun as their God, in remembrance of the light and energy it gives for the life (which makes a life-source) in the Earth. Sun is also considered as a source of healing for the diseases like leprosy and other.

The Chhath is observed for four days, from Kartik Shukala chaturthi to Kartik Shukala Saptami (respectively known as Nahay Khay, Lohanda and Kharna, Sandhya Arghya and Usha Arghya). The meaning of ‘Chhath’ literally means ‘six’ in English, and hence, the main and most important day of the Chhath Parva is the Kartik Shukala Shasthi. The exact date for the Chhath is however, confirmed by a committee in Janakpurdham in Nepal, Mainly this festival fall on the months of Kartik or Mangsir according to Nepali calendar, which is followed by the people all over the world who celebrate the festival. It is the festival of color, liveliness and life for the people who celebrate it. According to Hindu myghology, there is the story behind the start of celebration of this festival, which can be summarized as:

‘’ Draupati, wife of Pandava, which is in pilgrim book Mahabharat, began to worshipping during one year disguised in the palace of King Birat. People believe that the Sun cure the disease like Leprosy and bring about prosperity and longevity to their family members. After Draupadi did so, not only she was able to solve her immediate problems, but also the Pandavas were able to get back their lost kingdom.’’

Janakpur Chaath Parva Festival
Janakpur Chaath Parva Festival. (Img credit to wikimedia)

There is another story, which is related to Karna, and which can be summarized as:

‘’Chhat Pooja or Surya Sashti vrat is observed by Warrior Karna, the son of Surya, who was renowned warrior and well-known for his nature of charity. Since Karna became a popular and powerful by observing Surya Puja, Hindus also worship Surya devata for courage, fame, health, wealth and prosperity’’

When people became informed of these stories, they also started doing the same. The festival requires a ritual bathing in the early morning (people usually prefer the Koshi, Karnali or Ganga rivers). They take a dip in the rivers or ponds, and take a fast in the second day. In the third day, they do the evening offerings and in the last day, they again go to the water source and observe the sunrise, do the morning offerings and break the fast as well. The offerings which are down contain ‘Prasad’ which are strictly vegetarian, and is cooked without salt, onion or garlic. They worship the Goddess ‘Chhathi Maiyya’, which is known as ‘Usha’ in the Vedas (Usha means dawn in English). Along with ‘Usha’, ‘Pratyusha’ (meaning dusk) is also worshipped, but it is done only in the evening. Both ‘Usha’ and ‘Pratyusha’ are believed to be the wives of Sun, and are with the Sun for forever. In the night, the observer sleeps in the floor with a single blanket.

To be precise, this is one of the very few Hindu festivals which do not have any requirement of the ‘Pandit’ (meaning priest). The whole process of Chhath is divided into six stages of Conscious Photoenergization Process, according to the Yoga Philosophy. There are several benefits of the process in the body and mind, which include improvement of immunity, prevail of calmness, and so on. Though the worshippers are mostly women, a large number of men do this Puja as well. The devotees merely worship the Sun, and once a person start to do the worship in this festival, it will become their duty to repeat the task every year, and pass it on to the following generations. If any of the family dies in a particular year, the very next Chhath puja is skipped of that year.

The Hymn, which is used for the Chhath Puja (the Chhath Mantra) is:

एष ब्रम्हा च विष्णुष्च शिव: स्कन्द: प्रजापती: ।
महेन्द्रोधनद: कालो यम: सोमो ह्यपाम्पति: ।।
एनमापत्सु क्रिच्छेषु कन्तारेषु भयेषु च ।
किर्तयन पुरुष्: कष्चिन्नवसिदती राघव ।।।
आदित्य्म सर्बकर्तंरं कलाद्वदाद्शम्युतमं ।
पद्महस्त्द्वयं वन्दे सर्वलोकैकभस्करमं ।।

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